The United States is a pretty big place. Even going from one side of a state to another can take several hours, and from one side of the country to another can take days if done by car. Even by plane it can take a few hours. So getting broadband access to all those parts of the country where people are can be a challenging and costly task, something the South Dakota Broadband Initiative (SDBI) is looking to fix thanks to its recent provision of 26 new broadband grants to organizations throughout South Dakota.
The SDBI is backed by the federal Department of Commerce's National Telecommunication and Information Administration's State Broadband Initiative, in an effort to help the expansion of broadband technology. The SDBI handed out grants totaling $205,000 in this newest round of funding, accompanying an earlier round of grant dispersion from last July, in which they issued 15 grants for a combined total of just over $112,000.
But the SDBI isn't just handing out free money to broadband providers; they're also offering assistance and expertise on request to help get purchased equipment installed and operational, as part of the Technology Planning and Computer Ownership program, one arm of the SDBI. One such grant went to a company called SolveForce, who announced at the end of December that they were looking to expand their dark fiber and general access offerings throughout the state. Already known for their access services, as well as their Broadband Global Area Network system, SolveForce has something of a specialty in the field of bringing access to underserved areas.
The expansion of broadband access, especially to those areas that don't have it, isn't just a priority to the SDBI, but to potential users as well. Broadband Internet access, at good speeds with minimal if any data capping, has the potential to revolutionize businesses and bring new opportunities to areas which didn't have them previously. Considering the recent growth of industry in the Dakotas region--North Dakota is especially seeing something of a renaissance of late thanks to oil exploration--it's the kind of thing that will put some needed cash behind broadband expansion. There are reports that North Dakota is already planning ahead for the time after the oil exploration starts to run down, as it pretty much inevitably will, so joining South Dakota in expanding broadband reach may be the way to go.
Of course, there are plenty of South Dakotans who would no doubt enjoy having access to better high-speed Internet connections; a cold winter day spent watching Netflix is no less fun there than it would be in any other place that gets cold winter days. Throw in the improved opportunities for business--the SDBI even made a video about the value of better Internet service--and it makes a clear picture; better connectivity for all is just a smart idea.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman